“Take time to dream”

Lou Brancaccio, editor of The Columbian, published an article today titled A pleasant surprise in taking time to dream, sparked by discovering a plaque on a bench. This is a perfect example how these important objects can enrich our lives if we take the time to notice them and let them do their magic.

Read the article here.

Memorials need to be remembered

As I was visiting the library in Rancho Santa Fe, a small town about 26 miles north of the city of San Diego, I noticed a memorial plaque next to a flag pole. It was dedicated to Lt. John B. McGrew, the only resident from the town to die in World War II.

Wanting to know more, I asked the people at the library. No one knew anything about it. I asked the people at the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society. Same answer. I found this to be a curious: here is a “favorite son” who paid the ultimate sacrifice, yet no one remembers him.

John B. McGrew memorial

As you can see from the photo, this is a substantial bronze memorial. It is placed in a place of honor very close to the American flag. A lot of thought, planning and money was invested in it. Yet now no one remember it, or him. Perhaps time has blurred its memory. Maybe the sad events of WWII make it hard to remember.

John B. McGrew memorial closeup

Should anything be done about this? Do we just go our merry way and let the past, like old soldiers, simply fade away? What can be done? Happily, a lot can be done. And it can be interesting and fulfilling on a personal and community level.

Here is what I decided to do: I spent some time researching as much about Lt. John B McGrew’s memorial as I could. Search engines make this simple. In the process I came to appreciate this man’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death, giving the few words on his memorial greater context.

Then I shared what I learned on Waymarking.com which, as they describe themselves, provides tools for you to catalog, mark and visit interesting and useful locations around the world. It wasn’t super time-consuming.

Still more could be done. I could organize an event where I demonstrate how to clean and preserve his memorial. This would focus the community’s attention on their history and maybe stimulate more interest in discovering other plaques and memorial in their area. Stay tuned for what may yet develop.

Have you had a similar experience? Please share.

Click here to see my Waymarking page for Lt. John B. McGrew:

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Why Memorials Matter

Photo of Mule Hill memorialMemorials are important cultural icons that dot the land by the thousands. They provide a direct connection with the past by focusing attention on an important person, place and/or event. They are meant to be a type of community scrapbook, providing a tangible way to experience history and keep it alive. Those who pause to read them are enriched by doing so.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of bronze memorials, have been seriously neglected and are in desperate need of care and attention. Over time, the clear protective coating they are given when first created breaks down. Air, moisture, industrial pollutants, bird droppings, acid rain,salt, dirt, dust, minerals from tap water and especially Ultra Violet radiation from the sun, work to break down the clear coating, leaving the bare bronze underneath vulnerable to react to the same elements.They cause the metal to tarnish, oxidize, darken and discolor, making the plaques and memorials hard to read. In severe cases they can even corrode and disintegrate.

Weathered, unreadable plaques and memorials imply they have been neglected, which implies a lack of importance. It conveys the message that the thought, consideration, hard work, expense and purpose were not worth it. What was originally meant to be a symbol of honor and recognition becomes just a dilapidated old relic that people bypass and ignore. This is the fate of every bronze plaque and memorial — unless action is taken to prevent it from happening.

Preservation is much easier and less expensive than restoration.Regular maintenance should be planned as part of the commitment to new bronze plaques & memorials. With a few simple techniques,easily obtained supplies AND willing people to take to take a few minutes a couple of times a year, they can get the care they deserve and avoid the inevitable damage that comes from neglect.

Click on the book icon on the right side of this page to download my free eBook how to preserve bronze plaques & memorials.